Consciousness - further reading
|This page lists books related to the article What is Consciousness?|
Physicalism vs DualismDespite the majority of people having what amounts to a dualistic point of view, Cartesian Dualism has been out of favour in academic circles for some time. This seems to mean that those defending a dualistic type of theory often invent a new name for it which tends to make an already difficult subject even more confusing.
Gilbert Ryle's 1949 book The concept of mind was highly influential. In this dualism is ridiculed as proposing a 'Ghost in the machine' . Note that Arthur Koestler's 1967 book The ghost in the machine is not specifically a reply to Ryle's comment, although it does have some chapters on the workings of the brain. However, this now looks rather dated, as does the the second part of The self and its brain by Popper and Eccles. The first part of this work is a philosophical defense of Dualism, but it chooses parallelism as its main opponent - rather a strawman in my point of view.
One of the strongest defenders of physicalism in recent decades has been Daniel Dennett. He has written many books for instance Consciousness explained, which go over the arguments in great detail, but as a result tend to be rather long. Dennett's most recent book Freedom Evolves is an explanation of how free will is compatible with physicalism. Naturally there are those who argue against Dennett's ideas, for instance John Searle in Minds, brains and science. However, Searle doesnt really fit into my classification of the four possible philosophies. A recent book with a dualist slant is A place for consciousness by Gregg Rosenberg
Other viewsParallelism seems to be a popular point of view, but most supporters don't seem to see the formidable objections. One person who does try to answer them is David Chalmers in The conscious mind. Support for mentalism is rather thin on the ground. Understanding consciousness by Mark Velmans starts of with a mentalistic viewpoint, but midway through it seems to switch to parallelism.
Since the early days of quantum theory there has been speculation that it is linked to consciousness in some way. Some accounts of this are highly mystical, but others have tried to make a reasonable argument, such as Roger Penrose in The Emperors New Mind.